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5 numbers that tell the story of Ravens season

5 numbers that tell the story of Ravens season

The most telling number of the Ravens 2016 season is probably 8 -- as in eight wins, which simply aren't enough, and eight losses, which simply are too many for a team aspiring to make the playoffs.

As linebacker Zach Orr said while cleaning out his locker on Monday, "We finished 8-8. No matter how you look at it, with the highs and the lows, we’re an average football team right now."

Here are five other numbers that help tell the story of the Ravens season:

31 -- The total number of sacks by the Ravens, the team's lowest total since 2010 and the third-lowest total in franchise history.

Terrell Suggs, playing with a biceps injury much of the year, led the way with eight sacks. But Elvis Dumervil missed eight games and finished with three, and disappointing Za'Darius Smith had just one. Rookie Matt Judon finished with four sacks, but second-round pick Kamalei Correa was no factor as a pass rusher.

Timmy Jernigan finished second on the team with five sacks, though he had three in the first three games and had little impact over the final month of the season.

Quite simply, the Ravens pass rush was a nonfactor way too often.

83.5 -- Joe Flacco's final quarterback rating, which ranked 24th among regular starting quarterbacks.

Flacco threw for a franchise-record 4,317 yards, but that is misleading; he threw 672 passes -- the second-most in the league and also a franchise record. His average of 6.42 yards per attempt was the second-lowest of his career and illustrated the dink-and-dunk, checkdown nature of the Ravens offense.

Whether the knee injury was a factor, Flacco's mechanics were off all season. His accuracy suffered and his decision-making was questionable. He finished with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

In short, he wasn't nearly good enough.

141 -  Points by kicker Justin Tucker,  a franchise record. That speaks both to Tucker's remarkable season and to the Ravens' repeated inability to score touchdowns.

Tucker was exceptional. He finished 38-for-39 on field goals -- his 38 field goals led the league -- and the only miss was blocked. Tucker tied an NFL record by making 10 field goals from 50 yards or longer. (He was a perfect 10-for-10, in fact.)

But as tight end Dennis Pitta said, the Ravens made Tucker look too good. The offense frequently stalled in the red zone, settling for three points instead of seven. Two clues: They ranked 24th in third-down conversion percentage and 20th in the red zone.

367 -  Carries by the Ravens, the lowest total in franchise history. Despite repeated assurances from coach John Harbaugh that the Ravens wanted to run the ball -- the lack of running helped cost Marc Trestman his job as offensive coordinator -- the Ravens simply refused to do it.

After the season, Harbaugh insisted offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg "believes in running the football." But there was little evidence of that. That's a shame, because both Terrance West (193 carries, 774 yards) and especially rookie Kenneth Dixon (88-382) showed plenty of promise.

1,111-- Penalty yards piled up by the Ravens, the third-highest total in franchise history. Their total of 125 penalties ranks tied for third in team history.

Time and again, drives stalled because penalties left the Ravens in second or third-and-long situations and they lacked the offensive firepower or ability to overcome that.

To be sure, penalties hurt on special teams and defense as well; rookie cornerback Tavon Young had a strong rookie season but finished with a team-high nine penalties, including four in the last three games.

MORE RAVENS: Flacco not advocating a change at offensive coordinator

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Watch the moment Lamar Jackson told John Harbaugh to go for it on fourth down

Watch the moment Lamar Jackson told John Harbaugh to go for it on fourth down

With the game tied late in the third quarter and the Ravens facing a fourth-and-2 from the Seattle eight-yard line, Baltimore had a decision to make.

Initially, the Ravens sent out kicker Justin Tucker to attempt a chip-shot field goal. But as quarterback Lamar Jackson trotted off the sidelines, head coach John Harbaugh had a question for him.

"Do you want to go for that?" the head coach asked his second-year quarterback.

Jackson didn't hesitate. He responded enthusiastically, telling Harbaugh, "Hell yeah, Coach. Let's go for it!"

He then turned to his teammates, asking them, "Do you want to go for it? Let's go!"

Baltimore called a timeout and dialed up a brilliant play-call on the decisive down. Lined up in a heavy, three tight end formation, Jackson took a direct snap eight yards, not just getting the first down but also finding the end zone to give the Ravens the lead.

The touchdown would put the Ravens ahead for good, as they left Seattle with an impressive, 30-16 road victory.

 At 5-2, Baltimore is sitting comfortably in first place in the AFC North, as they have a well-timed bye week before playing host to the undefeated Patriots in two weeks.

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Ravens defense slows down torrid Seahawks in convincing road win

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Ravens defense slows down torrid Seahawks in convincing road win

As Marlon Humphrey scooped up a fumble and ran into the end zone, his teammates followed closely behind to take a group picture. 

After all, they deserved it.

The Ravens defense held MVP-candidate Russell Wilson at bay for most of Sunday’s game in Seattle, and the offense was able to do enough for a 30-16 victory. 

“I felt like nobody really thought we could win,” Marlon Humphrey said. “I think there’s not been many games I felt like, really in my whole career, that no one really felt we could win.”

While Lamar Jackson stole the show, the Ravens defense played its best game of the season when the team needed it most

Marcus Peters, the team's newest addition, returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter, and capped with Humphrey’s scoop-and-score, the Ravens' defense nearly outscored the Seahawks offense by itself. 

“I’m just here to do my part, and my part is whatever they tell me to do,” Peters said. “If it’s to go run into a wall, I go run into a wall. I’m not here to complain about nothing, just keep doing my job.”

Wilson, who hadn’t thrown an interception all season before Peters’ pick, was held to 241 yards on 20-of-41 passing. He didn’t eclipse 200 yards until the outcome was no longer in doubt. Over the Seahawks' final five drives, they scored just three total points.

The Ravens’ in-season additions — Josh Bynes, L.J. Fort, Jihad Ward and Peters — played significant roles Sunday. 

Fort had an excellent open field tackle in the first quarter on Wilson, Bynes led the team in tackles with eight, Ward was in the rotation on defense and Peters had his pick six. 

“Those guys were good selections,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They were just good football choices by our personnel department, led by Eric. We were really stabilized by Josh Bynes and by L.J. Fort. They know how to play, they know how to play the position and they got us calmed down.”

The leader of the defense, however, and the one every Raven played for, was Earl Thomas.

In his return to Seattle, he was the vocal leader on a defense that slowed down one of the NFL’s best teams.

“I told him, ‘We’re going to win it for you,’” Lamar Jackson said. “‘I know you’ve been here years, this is your original home and we’ve got your back.’” 

Thomas didn’t register a ton on the statsheet, but his presence was certainly felt by the Ravens all week long. 

“All week, really, we kept saying, ‘We got you, Earl, we got you,’” Humphrey said. “Seahawks moved on from him, and I think everyone knew they felt like he didn’t have it anymore, that it wasn’t like a happy go-away. It was more like, ‘You don’t got it anymore, we don’t really want you.’ It’s just a game, but for Earl, it’s a little bit more.”

The Ravens defense has seemingly found its stride after a rocky patch against the Cardinals, Chiefs and Browns. 

Tougher opponents await, namely the Patriots after the bye week. But for now, the Ravens defense has nothing to hang its head about.

“For us to come in and get this victory, with Earl on our team, it was really big,” Humphrey said.

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